Burma adjourns talks on new civilian constitution
The convention chairman, Major-General Myo Nyunt, said the pause was to give delegates time to study proposals for a new constitution, but some observers suggested the motive might have been to distract attention from a protest by Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader under house arrest since July 1989. She has refused outside offers of food, timing what has now become a hunger strike to coincide with the beginning of the convention.
The gathering in Rangoon is being depicted by the junta - the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) - as the first step towards the possible restoration of civilian rule. The convention has received extensive publicity within Burma. Restrictions on visits by foreign journalists have been eased as the Slorc attempts to improve its image.
Diplomats and exiled opposition figures believe, however, that the main purpose is to legitimise continued military rule. The European Community refused to send observers. Gen Myo Nyunt told the opening session on Saturday: 'To put it frankly, the maintenance of national stability without the participation of the tatmadaw (military) is extremely risky and dangerous.'
The National League for Democracy (NLD) won the May 1990 elections by a landslide, despite the confinement of Ms Suu Kyi. The Slorc ignored the result, however, imprisoning hundreds of party members and forcing many NLD leaders to leave the country. Although the junta pays little heed to Western opinion - the awarding of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize to Ms Suu Kyi made no difference to its treatment of her - pressure from South-east Asian neighbours and Japan appears to have persuaded the military to make cosmetic changes. Some political prisoners were released, and Ms Suu Kyi's British husband, Michael Aris, was allowed to visit her last May for the first time in more than two years.
Last month Mr Aris, an Oxford don, said his wife had decided to refuse all outside help and had asked him not to visit her, fearing this might weaken her resolve in a battle of wills with the Slorc. The adjournment of the convention, which surprised delegates, will enable the military to usher foreign journalists out of Burma just when the confrontation with Ms Suu Kyi may be coming to a head.
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...
£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Junior Software Deve...
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Sales Executive ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Night Porters are required to join a family-ow...